I have ten immediate aunts and uncles and only one of them is still married. For twenty three years, I watched my cousins suddenly have to visit “two houses” on the holidays. One by one, couples dissipated; as if they never existed at all. And, all the while, I never once thought I would have to experience that.
That is, until August 15th 2011; nine days before I went back to college for my senior year, my dad sat me down at the kitchen table and explained to me that he was moving out. He had an apartment, he would still support us financially, but the stress of marriage and owning his own business was too much, and he needed time to himself. At the end of it, my mind swirled, unable to grasp what my reality was about to become.
My mom came home that night, shocked, hysterical, and confused. What could I say? How could I comfort her? I knew there was no way I could assuage this situation, because I still didn’t understand what was going on. How could my parents be the next ones on the proverbial chopping block?
I went back to college and was able to push the situation at home to the side. I focused my energy on my senior year; I spent my nights worried about the post-college apocalypse; after all, I was about to enter the worst economy in decades. When I visited “home”, it felt strange. Mom and Dad would still “get together”, they still celebrated their anniversary, they still went on dates, but Dad just wasn’t living there.. At Christmas, we spent the morning and day together; it felt comfortable and normal, that is, until my dad got up and left at 8 p.m.- reality was finally sinking in.
Admittedly, I ran away from their problems. With my older brother out of the house and living his own life, I had always felt too close to their situation, and I wanted an opportunity to live my own life. Or, at least that’s what I thought. In retrospect, I ran away because for four years while I was in college, I felt forgotten and alone due to their consumption with their own world. Bitterness drove me to a better place.
The separation lingered on. Days became weeks: Weeks became months, and months into years.
As the months dragged on, the stress of their situation slowly etched on their faces. And then, another shocking blow. For the last five years, my father had been having, and could still be having, an affair with another woman. This time, my world shattered. I was angry. I still am angry. I am angry that for five years, we made excuses for his absentee nature, only to find out that this entire time, he had a separate life. Missed birthdays, ceremonies and graduations; all this time, was it for her?
It has been a few months since we all experienced the initial impact of this revelation, and it would appear that I am the only one who is still angry. I try every day to muster up enough will to “want” to talk to my father, but, I always end up putting the phone down. In fact, his number isn’t even in my contacts. My heart hurts every day; when my boss talks about his own daughter, or when I have good news, and don’t call him. “He’ll just forget anyway” I think to myself. But, the core reason as to why my heart hurts is simple; I’m scared. For years, I have been told that “I am just like my father”, down to both of us being left handed. I inherited so many of his characteristics that it scares me to think that I also inherited his ability to lie, cheat, and deceive. With a family full of failed marriages, am I doomed to follow suit? Is Divorce Hereditary?
Yes, I think it is, or at least I believe the characteristics that cause divorce are. But, like other hereditary diseases, there are preventable measures that can be taken. I inherited my father’s athletic nature, but I also inherited his inability to communicate. I inherited his curly dark hair, and I also inherited his inability to address issues or concerns. I never thought these were bad traits; in fact, I thought it was “okay” to keep to you. But, when I saw the impact of those traits first hand, it dawned on me that it was time to change.
I never want to be the root of someone’s pain. I never want to push someone who loves me away. I could never wish this pain on anyone, and would never want to continue on a path that could put my future children in harm’s way. I cannot speak for my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins or brother on this subject. I can only speak for me when I say, I want to work on overcoming those inherited traits so that the people I love do not feel the vibrations of my own shortcomings.
Since I acknowledged these traits, my relationship with my boyfriend has only gotten stronger, but we still have our days. And, those days are the days when I withhold something; when I can’t seem to express myself; The days where I am just like my father. It will take time, and it might not ever be perfect, but if there is one thing I learned it’s this; like heart disease, or cancer, unless you acknowledge your family’s history, you are more likely to repeat the past.